Police monitor a crime scene in a file photo. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
A California judge sentenced Bryn Spejcher to two years probation with no prison time Jan. 23 after she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of her boyfriend.
A jury found Ms. Spejcher, 33, guilty of the charge in December. She was initially charged with murder after she stabbed 26-year-old Chad O’Melia, of Thousand Oaks, California, more than 100 times with different knives in 2018.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Worley found that Ms. Spejcher couldn’t control herself when she had a psychotic episode after smoking marijuana with Mr. O’Melia that night.
“From that point forward, she had no control over her actions,” Judge Worley said, according to the Ventura County Star
Ms. Spejcher will additionally have to serve 100 hours of community service.
Her attorney Michael Goldstein said the sentence was “fair.”
“[Tuesday], Judge Worley imposed a sentence that was fair and considered both the conduct of Ms. Spejcher and the uncontested fact that Chad Omelia provided the marijuana that caused cannabis-induced psychosis experienced by Ms. Spejcher,” Mr. Goldstein told The Epoch Times.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office initially charged Ms. Spejcher with murder in 2018, which would have carried a stiffer sentence, but when a new district attorney was elected, that changed. District Attorney Erik Nasarenko took over the case in 2022 after he succeeded former District Attorney Greg Totten.
After receiving psychological evaluations of Ms. Spejcher in 2022, a new deputy district attorney asked the judge to reduce her murder charge in September 2023, a month before a scheduled jury trial.
Medical experts testified that Ms. Spejcher reported a complete misperception of reality when she was evaluated. They said she heard voices and saw visions after taking a bong hit that night. The delusions directly related to stabbing, they said, according to news reports.
In September, Judge Worley granted the prosecutor’s request to reduce the charge, saying the new evidence showed the district attorney’s office had “no choice” but to ask for the reduction, according to a report in the Thousand Oaks Acorn
According to testimony, Ms. Spejcher met Mr. O’Melia at a dog park a few weeks before she stabbed him. Mr. O’Melia was from Santa Clarita and had recently moved to Thousand Oaks and was working for an accounting firm and studying to become a certified public accountant, according to testimony.
Ms. Spejcher was working as a licensed audiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to her attorney.
When law enforcement responded to the incident, they found Ms. Spejcher covered in blood and hysterically crying over O’Melia’s body. She had also stabbed herself 43 times, mostly in the throat and had to have multiple surgeries.
Ms. Spejcher spent several days in the hospital and then posted bail, according to her attorney.
Her lawyers said during the trial she was “involuntarily intoxicated” after Mr. O’Neil intimidated her into smoking marijuana that night, according to the Ventura County Star. Under California criminal law
, people are not responsible for their actions if their intoxication was involuntary and caused by force, duress, fraud, or trickery.
Ms. Spejcher spoke during the sentencing, sobbing and repeatedly apologizing to Mr. O’Melia’s father Sean O’Melia, according to news reports.
“She had no reason to harm Chad O’Melia. As Judge Worley so accurately stated, this was not a murder, it was a tragedy,” Mr. Goldstein, her attorney, said. “For that reason, the sentence served the ends of justice.”
Mr. O’Melia’s father could not be reached for comment, but a TikTok post
written Tuesday on a page called “Justice for Chad O.” called the sentencing a “devastating outcome.”